Georgia’s governor is facing the May 12 deadline to either sign or veto bills proposed in the state legislature. Among the numerous bills that have been signed, only one has been vetoed. Here is a rundown of these notable bills in industry:
Rural broadband SB17&SB2 (Signed)
First, a big change to who is allowed to supply rural telephone and internet services. According to SB17, individuals and private entities may now form cooperative non-profits meant to supply telephone and internet services. This bill defines rural areas as those regions residing outside of cities, towns or incorporated areas of more than 15,000 inhabitants.
Here are four more changes this bill makes:
- Cooperatives may choose to supply telephone and/or internet services but are not required to provide both.
- They may not seek to recover financial losses through the Universal Access Fund.
- Gives cooperatives the right to apply for loans and enter into business deals (contracts) with both private entities (citizens and companies) as well as state and federal government departments.
- Any laws or regulations which conflict with this bill are automatically repealed.
Physical therapy compact act HB39
In an effort to increase the public’s access to physical therapists and allow those practicing as physical therapists to practice in other states, this bill introduces the “Physical Therapy Compact Act”.
Here are the most important highlights of this bill:
- Physical therapists must now undergo criminal background checks issued by the state. Information pertaining to these background checks will not be shared outside of Georgia.
- They may practice in other states without encumbrance.
- Physical therapists may practice in other states which also participate in the Compact Act.
- Physical therapists are to be held accountable to other states’ standards should they practice in those states.
- Residents of Georgia may now receive physical therapy within Georgia from out-of-state practitioners.
Manufacturers of mobile homes change in mortgage broker status HB212
This bill adds an exemption to retail brokers of manufactured homes, mobile homes, and residential industrial buildings to obtain a mortgage broker/lender license.
Individuals who meet the following criteria are exempt from needing to obtain a mortgage broker license:
- Acting as an employee within the scope of employment and is not an independent contractor.
- Has not been issued a cease and desist order in the past five years.
- Employed by only one such retailer and is at all times eligible for employment.
- Has not had a mortgage lender, broker, or originator license revoked in the past 5 years.
Changes to licensing for several professions SB 214
Changes to the issuance, denial and revoking of licenses for several professions within Georgia. This bill makes changes to the conditions under which certain professional licenses may be denied or revoked, barber apprenticeship hour and testing requirements, and how licenses are issued for body artists.
- Within the state of Georgia, licensing boards are not allowed to deny or revoke a professional license (of those listed below) if that person is currently defaulting on student loan debt under the Georgia Higher Education Loan Program.
- Professions this affects:
- Mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, foresters, pharmacists, real estate appraisers, real estate brokers, salespersons, and medical professionals.
Barber apprenticeships now have new requirements as well:
- A barber apprentice must receive and take the theory portion of an examination within 12 months of his or her apprenticeship.
- This applies to an apprenticeship in a beauty shop, beauty salon, or barbershop.
Body art and body art facilities also face new licensing:
- Permits to perform body art are now issued by the Department of Public Health
- This department also now has the power to revoke licenses as well.
- Any person performing body art without a valid license is guilty of a misdemeanor.
- Body art includes piercings or other invasive procedures.
Income tax credits for timber producers suffering losses from hurricane Mathew HB446
Hurricane Mathew left inland damage that has affected many timber processors. This bill changes the conditions in which timber producers may receive tax credits for losses resulting from damaged land.
- Each tax credit applies in a ‘per-acre’ basis.
- Every corresponding acre claimed as a credit must be adequately stocked stand in order to result in forest products or ecological services in the foreseeable future.
- Only property owners who suffered timber loss may claim those per-acre tax credits.
- Those who receive tax credits for timber casualty may not transfer those credits not anyone and may not receive refunds for them either.
Other notable legislation:
- HB 68- Restricts the types of organizations that can handle state tax credit funding for private school scholarships
- HB 182- Requires internet retails to collect sales taxes if they have at least $100,000 in annual Georgia sales.
- HB 316- Replaces the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines with a $150 million voting system that uses touchscreens, printers and optical scanners.
- HB 324- Permit medical marijuana growing, manufacturing, testing and distribution at dispensaries.
- HB 346- Protects renters from eviction when they complain to landlords
- HB 454- Creates rules for electric scooters
- HB 501- Establishes oyster farming
- HB 551- Regulates use of the herbal supplement kratom and makes it illegal for minors. Also removes the ability of the state medical board to discipline doctors who fail to register on time with the state’s opioid prescription monitoring database.
- SB 2- Allows electric membership corporations to provide broadband Internet to help rural areas
- SB 17- Allows telephone cooperatives to provide broadband Internet to help rural areas
- SB 25- Clarify when to stop for a school bus
- SB 66- Statewide regulations to promote 5G wireless technology.
To read more about these bills and check their status go to: http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx
To read about HB 511, which impacts transportation in Forsyth County, read this article.